Knowing what your natural style of communication is can be a valuable step in improving your interaction in all contexts and relieving social stress. One of the most common communication models describes 4 types:
The assertive type
The passive type
The aggressive type
The passive-aggressive type.
The awareness of this model helped me better understand my clients who very often describe their problems as:
• "I am the one who keeps silent during a meeting unless really necessary “
• „I tend to avoid getting into conflicts, I avoid people who might create one because I prefer harmony “
• „It is hard to express my needs and opinions, I'd rather let others do it and go along “
• „I struggle to say No to requests from my colleagues out of fear of disappointing or upsetting them “
• „I am not comfortable starting a conversation fearing that what I have to say is not important or interesting “
• „Others think or told me that I am strange “
• „I bottled up my frustration and at one point I let it all out. “All these descriptions seem to fit into the passive communication type.
Although some people tell me that other people like them because they create harmony and are easy-going, in the long term, passive communication can contribute to an increased level of stress for several reasons:
• Not expressing oneself assertively can lead to a diminished sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Basically, you give up the relationship with yourself in favor of the relationship with others.
• People around you fail to understand or get to know you and might even assume some negative traits.
• Many tend to seek more external approval and in time they fail to rely on self-validation and self-approval leading to unhappiness.
• Own resentments stemming from not expressing needs tend to build up and create internal conflict. There is an internal fight between wanting to express and not being able to.
• People feel they lack control of their behaviour and this creates stress.
To improve and change your communication style you need to start working both on your assertiveness and conflict exposure. Gradually learning to say No when you want to, will improve your image of yourself and decrease internal conflict. Very helpful is being part of an environment that supports you in this challenge. Having people around you who are patient and give you space, who are non-judgemental and value your opinions and feelings will provide you with the security you need to start expressing yourself.